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It’s officially stargazing season in the US, and could there be a better way to celebrate than by visiting the newest addition to the International Dark Sky Park Association? The time is ripe to head to Arches National Park, which has just become the fourth International Dark Sky Park in Utah.

Arches National Park is known primarily for its unique rock formations and wind-worn sandstone. It currently holds the title for “the highest density of rock arches in the world” according to Lonely Planet, and it’s now also being recognized for its commitment to dark sky preservation.

Qualifying for outstanding “dark sky preservation” involves a rigorous application process. In the eyes of the International Dark Sky Park Association (IDA), it mostly comes down to if the park is using public education to spread awareness about light pollution and if they’re enforcing area-wide responsible lighting policies. Long before gaining Dark Sky Park status, Arches has been hosting regular astronomy programs and events over the past couple of years.

To celebrate the new title, park rangers from around the Colorado Plateau will host a ceremony and “star party” on Sept. 21 at the brand new Panorama Point stargazing area. If you’re out of state and are planning to visit for the festivities, to get to the park you can use your points and miles by either flying into Salt Lake City International (SLC) and driving about four hours, or flying into Grand Junction Regional Airport (GJT), which is approximately two hours from the park. When you get there, you’ll have a wide array of options for accommodations — but we recommend reserving a campsite so you can sleep under the stars. 

IDA communities, parks and sanctuaries are scattered across the country (and the rest of the world) — including well-known landmarks like The Grand Canyon and Joshua Tree. To find a stargazing spot near you, check out the Dark Sky interactive map.

Featured image by Adam Springer via Getty Images.

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